Frances Osborne

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Honourable
Frances Osborne
Personal details
Born Frances Victoria Howell
(1969-02-18) 18 February 1969 (age 49)
Nationality British
Spouse(s) George Osborne (1998–present)
Children 2

Frances Victoria Osborne (née Howell;[1] born 18 February 1969)[2] is a British author. She has written two biographies and one novel. She is the wife of George Osborne, the former British Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Osborne's first biography Lilla's Feast tells the story of her great-grandmother's life and was published by Doubleday in September 2004. The Bolter, Osborne's second biography, became an international best-seller telling the story of her great-grandmother Idina Sackville. Park Lane, her third book and first novel published in June 2012, was named Bookseller's Choice by The Bookseller magazine.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Marlborough College

Frances Osborne is the eldest daughter of Conservative Minister David Howell, Baron Howell of Guildford and Cary Davina Wallace.

Osborne was educated at Marlborough College and Oxford University and then trained as a barrister (advocate) where she became friends with the wife of Ed Miliband, Justine Thornton, with whom she later embarked on a backpacking trip across South America.[4][5] Through her mother, she is a direct descendant of John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk and Edward I.

Adult life[edit]

Frances married the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne on 4 April 1998. They met at lunch at a mutual friend's house.[6] The Osbornes have two children. Osborne worked in law, finance and journalism before becoming a full-time writer.[4]

In 2011, Osborne was featured in Vogue's Special Edition Best Dressed: The Royal Wedding.[7]


Lilla's Feast[edit]

Osborne's first biography follows the life of the author's paternal great-grandmother, Lilla Eckford. Lilla Eckford wrote a cookery and housekeeping book when in a Japanese internment camp in World War II. Osborne was fourteen when Lilla died at the age of 100. After the death, Osborne discovered a box full of faded letters that had flown between Lilla, her first husband (Osborne's great-grandfather), his parents and his siblings. Osborne read through the letters, which revealed the story of why Lilla never gave up hope.[8]

Lilla's Feast, published by Doubleday in 2004, has been translated into six different languages, is a Kiriyama Prize Notable Book and a New York Times Editor's Choice.[3]

The Bolter[edit]

The Bolter: Idina Sackville – the woman who scandalised 1920s society and became White Mischief's infamous seductress is a biography of another of Osborne's great-grandmothers, this time a maternal one. Idina Sackville was called a "bolter" as she fled her marriage. There were many bolters in the 1920s but Sackville was the most celebrated of them all in result of her relentless affairs and wild sex parties. She inspired many writers and artists, from Nancy Mitford[9] to Greta Garbo[10] but Idina's compelling charm masked the pain of betrayal and heartbreak.[11]

At the age of 13, Osborne opened a newspaper to discover that Idina Sackville was her mother's grandmother. Osborne used family letters and diaries including those of Idina's first husband (Osborne's great-grandfather) and the shared son of him and Idina (Osborne's grandfather). She abandoned him for the first 19 years of his life.[3]

The Bolter was published in the U.K. by Virago Press dated 2008 and in the U.S. by Knopf in June 2009 and in trade paperback by Vintage Books in May 2010. It was San Francisco Chronicle's Best Book of the Year[12] and an O: The Oprah Magazine No. 1 Terrific Read.[13]

Park Lane[edit]

Park Lane is Osborne's first novel, though she used her own ancestry as inspiration. It is set in a mansion on London's Park Lane in 1914. Downstairs is housemaid Grace Campbell pretending to her family she is working in a well-paid office job. Upstairs is disillusioned debutante Beatrice Masters. Beatrice secretly joins a group of radical militant suffragettes and begins a relationship with a man who would be forbidden from even entering Beatrice's house. Grace and Beatrice both will discover how their life decisions will affect their future amid the rapidly changing world of World War I, which brings down the barriers that separate the two women.[14]

Park Lane was published by Vintage Books in June 2012, and was rated a top ten read of 2012 by Easy Living[3] along with being Red Magazine's Book of the Month[15] and a Bookseller's Choice in the UK.[3]


  1. ^ Charles Mosley, editor, Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes (Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003), volume 2, pages 1989 and 3030.
  2. ^ Lundy, Darryl, Hon. Frances Victoria Howell,, retrieved 23 February 2010[unreliable source]
  3. ^ a b c d e "The Official Website of Frances Osborne". Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  4. ^ a b "Frances Osborne: the view from No 11". 26 May 2012. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  5. ^ Victoria Lambert (2014-03-29). "Why everyone wants a Marlborough missus". The Telegraph (UK). Retrieved 2015-02-09. Most famous, of course, is the Duchess of Cambridge, “wife of” our future king. But see also, Samantha Cameron, “wife of” the Prime Minister. Frances Osborne, “wife of” the Chancellor. Sally Bercow, “wife of” the Speaker. Diana Fox, “wife of” the Governor of the Bank of England.
  6. ^ "Emotional ties with author Frances Osborne". 6 September 2012. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  7. ^ "Vogue's Special Edition Best Dressed:The Royal Wedding". 29 April 2011. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  8. ^ Osborne, Frances (2004). Lilla's Feast. London: Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-60666-0.
  9. ^ Mitford, Nancy (1949). Love in a Cold Climate. Random House. ISBN 978-0-307-74135-6.
  10. ^ Greta Garbo and John Gilbert (1928). A Woman of Affairs (Silent film).
  11. ^ Osborne, Frances (June 2009). The Bolter. Knopf. ISBN 978-0-307-27014-6.
  12. ^ "The 100 best fiction, nonfiction books of 2009". 20 December 2009. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  13. ^ "10 Terrific Reads of 2009". December 2009. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  14. ^ Osborne, Frances (June 2012). Park Lane. Vintage. ISBN 978-0-345-80328-3.
  15. ^ "Park Lane Review". 30 May 2012. Retrieved 20 June 2012.

External links[edit]